Understanding and Managing Psoriatic Arthritis: Relief for Night-Time Pain

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a form of chronic inflammatory arthritis associated with the skin condition psoriasis, which is characterized by red, scaly patches on the skin. It is estimated that approximately 30% of individuals with psoriasis will develop PsA. However, the arthritis symptoms can sometimes precede the skin manifestations.

Psoriatic arthritis can affect any part of your body, including your fingertips and spine, and can range from relatively mild to severe. Symptoms often include painful, swollen joints that may be warm to the touch, morning stiffness, fatigue, and reduced range of motion. Like many chronic conditions, the symptoms of PsA can vary and may come and go.

The pain and discomfort associated with PsA can often become more noticeable at night, potentially disrupting sleep and overall quality of life. Here are some strategies that can help manage the pain and ensure a better night’s sleep:

Medical Treatments: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can be effective at reducing inflammation and pain. More recently, biologic therapies have proven very effective in managing PsA symptoms by targeting specific components of the immune system. These treatments should always be administered under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Physical Therapy: Regular exercise can help keep your joints flexible and your muscles strong, which can reduce pain and inflammation. A physical therapist can help you develop a workout routine that’s safe and effective for you.

Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying a hot or cold pack to the affected joint can help reduce pain and inflammation. Heat can help relax muscles and promote blood flow, while cold can help numb the joint and reduce swelling.

Mind-body Therapies: Practices like meditation, deep-breathing exercises, and yoga can help manage pain by reducing stress and tension. These practices can also improve sleep quality.

Healthy Sleep Habits: Ensuring your bedroom is a sleep-friendly environment can significantly impact the quality of your sleep. This includes maintaining a cool temperature, reducing noise and light, and investing in a comfortable, supportive mattress and pillows. Establishing a regular sleep schedule and bedtime routine can also help signal your body that it’s time to sleep.

Healthy Diet: Certain foods can exacerbate inflammation, while others can help reduce it. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids can help manage inflammation and promote overall health. It’s also advisable to limit processed foods, refined sugars, and excessive alcohol.

Living with psoriatic arthritis requires a holistic approach that includes medical treatments, lifestyle modifications, and mind-body therapies. If night-time pain is an issue for you, discuss it with your healthcare provider so they can help you formulate a plan for better sleep and pain management. With the right strategies, you can better manage your symptoms, improve your sleep, and maintain a good quality of life.